Driving my 1949 Ford Tudor is like going on a date with an aging celebrity. Think less Hollywood and more local celeb, like a news anchor that got replaced when her face and chest began to sag. Like the celebrity everyone will recognize my Ford as something special. Like the celebrity it will need to be coddled because it requires special attention and will need to be dealt with gingerly.
It is an involving driving experience though. There is constant correction at the wheel. The original specifications were 1.5 inches of free play at center. Between the column shift and blinker assembly and pedals there's just about always something going on.
It's rusty. It has drum brakes. It's low on power. The rear end has tall gearing which gets it away from a red light at a respectable pace. If you really want to look like a hooligan you can rev it up and let the clutch go it'll lay down one skinny strip of rubber. That's not really the point of this car though.
Out on the town.
My Ford is not fast. It'll do 70 on the interstate but that ancient motor sounds a little too busy for comfort. Plus I've got four ancient drum brakes attached to an ancient one-pot master cylinder. If that isn't petrifying then imagine the non-break away steering column just waiting to skewer the driver in the event of a serious collision. There's also a nice steel unsympathetic dash for your tender body to slam into. Safety is a concern.
I bolted some seat belts in at the behest of my mom and girlfriend. I also keep it off the interstate because cruising speed is about 60 and in this neck of the woods it just isn't fast enough. I wouldn't want to drive behind it. So I satisfy myself with slithering around town and running errands in it. But cruising this thing can't be beat. Roll all the windows down and glide around town and you'll get the giddy sensation of just being the center of attention at every intersection. I love the gas station talks with strangers and the thumbs up or waves of approval I get from other drivers. It makes people happy to see it. I like the stories everyone seems to have about how their dad owned one back in the day or how one just like it was their first car.
I like driving it for the reason that it is a relic. I like to wonder how close my experience with the car is to the experience of the first owner, that first guy or gal that slid in behind the steering wheel in 1949. Who was it? WWII was still a recent memory, but this automobile was a symbol of hope. Back then the windshield would have been perfectly clear and all the gadgets would have seemed like current technology instead of quaint. I wonder what it was like when it was shiny and new.
I'm no purist, I have changed plenty on my car and will continue to modify it as I see fit. I think a concourse restoration would be a bit silly and on this car because there are definitely better persevered cars to start with. Doing something like that here would be a waste of time and money. I love a good hotrod. Snarling V8s and fat rear tires give me goose bumps. I love a little something from every genre but the car I'm most into right now is my old car. I think that's my preferred genre too. Old car. There's something romantic about jumping into something old and gaining an understanding of what previous generations were driving.
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